Ever experience the frustration of trying to configure an internet connection, multi-line phone system, or firewall that allows essential business software to run? When those challenges mean downtime for a company, it can lead to much more than just frustration. That’s why smart business owners look for an IT consulting expert or turn to managed IT services to keep technology configured and optimized.

Managed services have truly taken the business world by storm. These professional services outsource many parts of a business infrastructure that were once left to business owners to plan, build, and troubleshoot by themselves. While running a business requires a certain type of genius, that doesn’t always mean that business owners have the expertise – or time – to fiddle with technology.

Managed IT services are imperative to business operations. Here’s why.

More Than a Competitive Advantage: A Necessity

Today’s modern business environment represents a digital labyrinth. It’s full of devices, software, and connectivity that empower a company to take full advantage of the data generation that defines the 21st-century business.

However, this level of complexity also means that an incredible number of possibilities exist when it comes to choosing the technology to drive a company. When creating the IT infrastructure of an office, there exist dozens of hardware and software options for any given need or challenge.

Additionally, the modern consumer is a technologically savvy individual who expects companies to meet them on this level – even startups. If a website, phone line, or other user interface doesn’t work, the potential customer will move on to a company with functioning infrastructure. Likewise, if a company’s infrastructure isn’t secure and suffers a data breach, consumers will unleash anger and distrust in a way that is typically fatal to a company.

That’s why many businesses turn to managed services, professionals that can correctly select, install, configure, and maintain critical infrastructure. According to CompTIA’s 7th State of the Channel Report, managed services are the single largest business service purchased by companies – and at least 90 percent of Fortune 1000 companies use them.

Managed IT Services Mean the Right Tools for the Job

Getting the right tools for the job the first time around is critical for a company’s viability. However, keeping pace with developments of business technology and cybersecurity is a full-time job.

Managed who specialize in cybersecurity in nuclear power plants, also specialize in it. These trained professionals know what tools work in a given scenario, and how best to apply them to meet a company’s needs. As a result, managed services tend to have a high return on investment due to things like:

  • Reduced acquisition expenses: The company pays a flat fee to the provider instead of purchasing a bunch of equipment with which they must experiment – with no guarantee that any of it will work.
  • Scalability: IT support service providers think in the long-term, developing solutions that will scale with the company’s growth.
  • More uptime: The correct technology installed and configured correctly the first time around means a company is up on its feet faster and for longer.
  • A professional digital presence: A flawless digital presence is the first step to enticing a customer to shop – a managed IT service provider makes sure that phones, servers, and websites are running and secure.

How Managed IT Services Accelerate Operations

In addition to cost savings, managed IT services can amplify a company’s ability to handle work and respond more quickly to market demands. A managed IT services provider accelerates operations by:

  • Freeing up the internal IT department for higher-value initiatives: Simple help desk requests like printer jams and password resets can clog the workflow of an internal IT department. A managed service provider keeps internal IT free by providing maintenance.
  • Remaining vigilant for threats before they become breaches: Whereas a company might not notice a threat or breach immediately, a managed provider will due to the advanced tools that they deploy to aid with network security.
  • Keeping the budget controlled: Business infrastructure is notorious for having hidden expenses – a managed service provider eliminates them and presents a consistent, expected bill each month.
  • Introducing opportunities for improvement: An experienced provider can typically make suggestions that improve workflows or operations beyond what the company thought possible.

Smile’s Managed Services Help Companies Succeed in Business

Managed IT services are more than just a smart move for companies that want to stay modern and competitive – they’re a critical element of success. These services empower companies by giving them access to the same infrastructure as their larger, more established rivals. That means a flawless digital presence, enhanced advanced threat detection, and the right tools for the job.

With most major organizations adopting managed services, their use is fast becoming the status quo. Soon, companies that don’t deploy them will either need a robust in-house IT department or risk falling out of the competition.

Smile helps companies access the best and most critical technology business solutions. Start a conversation with a specialist to get started today.

Can Malware Disguise Itself as Banking Software?

Hackers are becoming more and more clever when it comes to stealing your information. Of course, their end goal is to turn their efforts into income. One of the best ways for hackers to do this is to gain access to your bank account.

However, banks make it hard for hackers to do their dirty work. Most banks require secure passwords and even offer additional security features like two-factor authentication for their users. Still, hackers have found a way to get all the information they need to get despite increased security measures.

Is malware in banking a real concern for you or your business? How can you protect against these kinds of attacks? In this article, we will discuss how hackers are using new techniques to get the information they find most valuable. More importantly, we will suggest some ways to help protect yourself.

The Usual Methods of Stealing Bank Information

Malware in banking is not the most common way hackers steal banking information currently. While these methods do not use malware disguised as banking software, we still feel they are worth mentioning for educational purposes.

One of the most common ways hackers gain access to banking information is by using phishing emails. These emails are sent to bank customers and appear to be legitimate communications. Users are prompted to click a link which directs them to a fake website where they enter their login information. Most banks will not request login information by email and, when in doubt, you should always contact your bank if you have questions about an email.

Another method hackers will use to steal banking information is by installing a keylogger malware. This malware hides in the background and tracks your keystrokes. In doing so, hackers can learn your passwords and snoop on any other information you may type into your computer. Protecting against this kind of malware is as simple as avoiding any links or file attachments you do not recognize.

While these methods are well-known, they are also very effective. In many cases, some of the more primitive methods of stealing information can get past malware detection software.

Malware Disguised as Banking Software

Protecting yourself from phishing emails and keylogging software is one thing, but what happens when the malware imitates your banking software? Identifying the difference can be difficult, even for seasoned users.

This is the situation the victims of the Camubot malware attack found themselves in. So far, this malware has mainly targeted users in Brazil but there is no telling where it may pop up next. The malware appears to be legitimate banking security software that integrates with biometric verification like fingerprint login technology. Once users have logged in, the hackers have all of their information and can use it to drain bank accounts or sell account information to other hackers online.

The malware is delivered after users are contacted by the hacker posing as a support representative from the bank. Then, the unknowing user is directed to install the Camubot malware and follow the instructions. The Camubot malware is designed to appear legitimate and many users enter their information without thinking twice.

Malware Taking over Browsers

Because there is so much money at play, malware in banking is becoming very advanced. Even users who have not downloaded the banking malware themselves can be affected through malware that was previously installed on their device. This was the case for many people in Poland.

This form of banking malware is installed behind the scenes and waits for a user to navigate to their online banking website. Instead of loading the actual website, the malware will direct the browser to a fake banking website that looks like the real thing. Users enter their login information and, just like that, their information is in the hands of the hacker.

This instance of malware in banking is like a much more advanced version of a traditional phishing attack which directs users to fake websites. Instead of convincing users to click on suspicious links, the hackers use malware to hijack the browsing experience for users.

This is somewhat similar to fake banking apps that have been created for mobile devices. Google and Apple lock down their app stores well but some apps can still be installed outside the app store. These apps could appear to be legitimate banking apps, but are directing users to fake login pages.

Secure Your Banking with Managed IT Services

The growing threats related to online banking could be a threat to your business as well as your personal banking. Managed IT services from Smile Business Products can help protect your computer and your entire network from malware that seeks to steal your banking information.

Stopping malware in banking is about more than just detection. With managed IT services, your business gets protection that examines all areas of your digital footprint to provide effective solutions. Ready to learn more? Contact us today.

How Can I Tell if My Computer or Network Has Been Hacked?

These days, we use our computers for everything from business to online banking to communicating with people around the world. Many banks like Five Star Bank offer consumer checking accounts, which has proven to be very beneficial. Of course, the trust we put into these devices makes them a prime target for hackers who want to disrupt the normal order of things.

There are nearly 1 million new malware attacks released on a daily basis. Clearly, hackers are committed to gaining access to your valuable information. So, how do you know if you have been hacked? How can you prevent being hacked?

In this article, we will tell you how to tell if your computer has been hacked. In addition, we will also tell you what to do if your computer has been hacked and how you can prevent hacking from ever occurring in the first place.

Is Your Computer or Internet Browser Slower Than Normal?

A sure sign that something is wrong with your computer could be an unexplained, sudden slow down when using the device. Of course, hardware components can degrade over time and cause computers to feel slow or sluggish. However, a new computer that’s experiencing sudden performance issues is a definite red flag.

Malware often operates in the background to track keystrokes and steal your information, among other goals. When these programs are operating, your device is dedicating computing power to the nefarious processes. As a result, your computer may feel slow for seemingly no reason at all.

If your browser is running slow, it could indicate that a website or browser extension is using additional computing power as well. Crypto mining code has been found in some websites and browser extensions. This code forces your device to mine cryptocurrency like Bitcoin without your approval. The result is a slower, poorly performing experience when browsing the internet.

Are You Seeing Unexplained Popups?

The occasional popup when you visit a website is annoying, but not unusual. Continuous popups on your computer should be a little more concerning. Sometimes it doesn’t take much when learning how to tell if your computer has been hacked. The hackers make their work obvious.

One of the most alarming popups you can receive is a ransomware popup. Ransomware locks down your computer or network data and requires payment or else the data will be deleted forever. These attacks have affected everyone from personal users to government agencies to some of the biggest companies in the world.

If you operate a business, ransomware can be very scary. One hacked computer can quickly evolve into a larger network hacking scenario where multiple users have their data and ability to work affected. The cost of paying hackers is never an easy pill to swallow but neither is losing essential data.

Are You Seeing Unexplained Activity Online?

In many cases, hackers are looking for usernames and passwords so that they can access your social media accounts, online banking, and other services. If you are noticing strange occurrences online, it may be an indication you have been hacked.

One example of this is unexplained or odd social media posts. Hackers will use the Facebook profiles of legitimate users to link unsuspecting users to fraudulent websites, online stores, and compromised websites.

If you have set up two-factor authentication on some of your services, you may notice authentication emails or text messages arriving asking for verification about a login. This is one indication that someone has stolen your login information. Luckily, two-factor authentication has stopped them in their tracks for now.

How to Prevent Hacking and What to Do if Your Computer Has Been Hacked

Device hacking and network hacking are both very real concerns for personal and business users around the world. Luckily, there are some basic tips that can a long way in preventing hacking and protecting your information.

First, as mentioned above, two-factor authentication can stop hackers in their tracks if they manage to steal information. Best of all, you will be alerted about login attempts. Enable this feature whenever possible.

Next, be sure to avoid any links or emails that look suspicious. If you are not expecting an email or attachment from someone then you may want to think twice about opening it. Even a legitimate sender could be hacked and sending compromised files unknowingly from their trusted email account.

Most importantly, prevention is key. You can seek out professionals after you have been hacked, but preventing the hacking in the first place can be much more cost effective and cause less downtime. In fact, you may wish to partner with trusted professionals for managed IT services to help prevent a serious breach in your devices and network.

Learn More about Managed IT Services

From protecting your entire network from malicious emails to ensuring devices are up-to-date and protected against hacking; managed IT services are one of the most effective ways to stop hackers in their tracks.

At Smile Business Products, our experts are ready to help you ensure the safety and security of your businesses’ digital assets. Contact us today to learn more about managed IT services. Hopefully, with our help, you will never have to find out what to do if your computer has been hacked.



What CEOs Have to Know About NIST

Our growing, connected business world is fantastic for reaching new clients and markets. However, that connectivity also opens up businesses to cyberattacks. In fact, almost 60% of small businesses have been affected by some sort of cyberattack.

When people think of businesses being targeted by cyberattacks, they often believe that hackers are only interested in attacking large, well-known businesses. The truth is, smaller businesses with less developed cybersecurity plans may be more at risk than large companies.

In response, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework was created to help businesses in the United States better prepare for growing online threats. In this article, we will explain more about NIST and how it may relate to your business.

An Introduction to NIST

NIST is short for National Institute of Standards and Technology. This is an organization within the United States Department of Commerce and their focus is very broad. NIST is responsible for setting weight and measurement standards, calibration standards for lab equipment, and much more.

Small and medium businesses may interact with NIST in a variety of ways, depending on the industry they operate in. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a development that is designed for all businesses regardless of area of focus or industry.

What Is NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

Over several years, NIST worked with experts to develop a framework that could help businesses better prepare for cybersecurity threats. The newest version of this framework was released in April of 2018. Ultimately, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a set of guidelines that businesses can use when looking to assess, improve, and detect cybersecurity threats.

By using the NIST cybersecurity guidelines, businesses can develop a plan to ensure that their own network security measures are adequate. There are five main areas covered by the NIST cybersecurity guidelines.

  • “Identify” is designed to help organizations develop their understanding and identify areas of risk.
  • “Protect” lays out guidelines for developing plans to protect business infrastructure.
  • “Detect,” outlines how businesses can identify a cybersecurity attack.
  • “Respond” is the fourth section that outlines planning for responding to an attack, communicating with stakeholders, and more.
  • “Recover” provides guidelines for developing a plan regarding overcoming an attack and restoring services.

Of course, that was a basic outline of the NIST cybersecurity guidelines. Following the framework is a detailed, intense process that is designed to help businesses take control of their own cybersecurity plans.

Why Is NIST Important for Businesses?

It is virtually impossible to operate a business today without some form of connection to clients using the internet. This means that hackers may be able to find a way to disrupt business operations. Without some sort of framework, many small and medium-sized businesses may have no idea how to begin protecting their operations from cybersecurity threats.

By developing this framework, NIST has clearly outlined the best practices that businesses can put in place for proper protection. In addition, since these guidelines are meant to be used across several businesses and industries, they create a standardized method that can continually be adapted to changing needs and threats. Businesses that implement plans based on the guidelines can trust that they will be able to change their plans seamlessly as changes are made to the NIST cybersecurity guidelines.

The one downside to the NIST framework is its complexity. Many small or medium businesses are simply not equipped or staffed to walk through the guidelines and implement suggestions in a timely manner. The cost of hiring dedicated employees for this may be prohibitive as well. There is no doubt that the NIST cybersecurity guidelines are important, but their implementation may be difficult for some businesses with time and/or budget concerns.

NIST and Your Business

What is NIST? Why is NIST important? We have answered these questions and explained why franchise development consultant should consider using the NIST cybersecurity guidelines to ensure adequate protection and cohesiveness with national standards.

Of course, implementing the suggestions and findings that come from doing a complete assessment may be difficult for some businesses. That’s where managed IT services from expert providers could prove to be helpful.

At Smile Business Products, we offer managed IT services for small and medium businesses. Using the NIST cybersecurity guidelines, we can help implement a nationally recognized cybersecurity standard and maintain security as updates and changes are implemented.

If you would like to learn more about NIST or our managed IT services, contact us today.

How Can I Protect My Business From Crypto Miner Malware Attacks?

Keeping up with the latest threats from hackers can seem overwhelming. Some estimates suggest there are over 1 million new malware threats released every single day. It can be overwhelming if you are not sure of what to look out for.

Recently, with the rise in popularity and value of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin mining malware and other crypto currency mining malware programs have exploded in popularity. These forms of malware attacks can be less obvious than other attacks like ransomware. As a result, businesses may be unaware of their effects until much later after the initial infection.

In this article we will break down crypto mining malware attacks, how you can prevent them, and how managed IT services may be a part of the solution.

What is Crypto Mining Malware?

When most people hear about cryptocurrency mining they have a hard time wrapping their head around the concept. How does crypto mining work and how does it affect your network devices?

Simply put, crypto mining uses computer processing power to verify blocks of transactions. The processing power of computer hardware is used to solve increasingly difficult mathematical equations in order to verify transactions with the rest of the distributed computers.

In return for doing this work, the users who “donate” their processing power are given a reward in the form of a small amount of cryptocurrency.

So, what is crypto mining malware? Instead of people using their own computer hardware for legitimate mining purposes, they use the hardware of unsuspecting users.

Bitcoin mining malware and other forms of crypto mining malware attacks tap into the power of your computer to verify transactions while the rewards go to the hackers who developed the malware.

Essentially, you are putting up the processing power and energy to help someone else earn cryptocurrency.

Why Should You Be Worried?

Now the question shifts from, “What is crypto mining malware,” to, “How does it affect me?”

Unlike more obvious forms of malware that seek to hold your data hostage in return for payment, Bitcoin mining malware is comparatively inconspicuous. Many people could be infected without ever knowing it. So what’s the problem?

As Bitcoin mining malware spreads, it begins to consume more and more processing power and energy.

Cryptocurrency mining is very energy intensive and Bitcoin mining alone is estimated to account for 0.5% of the world’s total power usage this year. In a home setting, a single computer using extra power may not be noticed. In a business setting, an entire network of devices tapping into additional power could be very costly.

In addition, this constant use of processing power could wear down computer hardware faster than normal use. If your graphics processing unit is operating 24/7 then it is likely the cooling fans will fail much earlier than what could be attributed to regular usage. Over time, these costs can add up as expensive hardware is replaced.

Finally, your computer simply cannot operate at peak efficiency if a portion of its processing power is being used for cryptocurrency mining without your knowledge. This would be like buying a high powered sports car only to find that the dealership swapped in a lawnmower engine before handing over the keys. The efficiency of your business is harmed because of every general Bitcoin Loophole app and new Bitcoin mining malware.

How to Prevent Crypto Miner Malware Attacks

Many of the standard computer security tips apply when preventing crypto miner malware attacks.

Users should avoid visiting websites they do not trust or opening email attachments from people they do not know. While Bitcoin mining malware may be a new twist of the standard malware infection, it is still distributed the same way as other forms of malware.

Managed IT services and managed network services can also go a long way in helping preventing the infection and spread of efficiency sapping malware. In a secure network environment, it can be more difficult for Bitcoin mining malware to gain a foothold and spread to other devices.

Using managed IT services, businesses can filter malicious emails as they enter the network and prevent infected files from reaching unsuspecting users.

There is no single way to prevent malware infection. A comprehensive strategy including managed network services is the only way to ensure your business security is ready for the latest digital threats.

Get Top Quality Business Network Services

At Smile Business Products, our business network services protect your company’s data and hardware by using the best technology available today.

We invite you to visit our facility, meet our team, and learn more about how we can protect you from crypto mining malware as well as the countless other threats to your business. Contact us today to learn more.